Tag Archives: Organic

My Favorite Season: October

14 Oct

IMG_7031

 

October in San Francisco is magic. Magic, I tell you. The sun is out and the days are actually warm (OK, its been pretty hot). It was even warm AFTER the sun went down this weekend. Magic. The almost ever present fog that hangs out in the city takes a hiatus in October. The almost ever present buses of tourists slow down in October and of recent super magical note: the San Francisco Giants have been playing baseball well into October.

SO. MUCH. MAGIC.

Ocean Beach, San Francisco

Ocean Beach, San Francisco

 

The thing about living somewhere that is so magical, full of sun with a great baseball team is that I have a job. A job that requires me to be indoors, not frolicking in the warm, less crowded streets (or beaches) of San Francisco. Said job also leaves me with very little time for blogging, running, haircuts, a social life, and cleaning my apartment. It’s a good thing that I happen to love my job.

Go Giants

Go Giants

 

So with keeeping in that recurring theme around here at NOTASC (yeah, I went there and gave myslef an acronym) I have a quick recipe for some of us who would rather be outside enjoying some nice weather. Consider this your to-go salad.

This is my (almost) daily green smoothie. It’s quick and healthy for on-the-go kinda’ folks. I make this in one of those easy  Magic Bullet blenders, I usually take a few minutes on a Sunday and prep out the ingredients for the week. Dice pineapple, wash and bag greens, you get the idea. Then each morning I throw in some kind of variation of this smoothie. I like to keep my ratio of veggies to fruit  pretty high. More veggies than fruit. The only rule.

IMG_7040

Sometimes I use coconut water, sometimes almond milk, other days I might use plain yogurt as the liquid base. Some weeks it’s just banana for the fruit, sometimes its banana AND pineapple. I always have a protein powder or hemp or chia seeds. I like Tera’s Whey protein powder. And usually buy chia or hemp seeds in the bulk section, I store those in the freezer so the volitile oils stay fesh. There are times I throw in a spoon of flax oil or coconut oil. I think you get the idea by now? This smoothie is freestyle; grab a lot of greens, some kind of fat or protein, maybe one sweet thing and voila!

Why you should drink this? 

Kale.

This ought to make some of you hippies happy, kale is a superwondermiracle food. Let me start by saying that by blending raw kale into your smoothie you are maximizing the superpowers of this titan cruciferous vegetable, the available fiber helps maintain proper detoxification. By supporting our cellular detox process, nutrients in kale can give our body an “edge up” in dealing with toxic exposure, whether from our environment or from our food.

The health benefits of kale are pretty typical of leafy greens; full of anit-oxidents, anti-inflamtory and anti-cancer nutrients. In a strange and untypical twist, I think that kale will also be running for President in 2016. Look out Hillary.

October Is The Best Green Smoothie

1 Banana
1/4 cup Pineapple (optional)
1 cup Kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup Frozen Spinach
1/2 Avocado
1/2 cup Coconut Water (or any other liquid you prefer)
1/2 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
2 teaspoon Chia Seeds

Smoothie goods

Smoothie goods

Throw all of this into a blender and blend until really green and really smooth.

Trust me, so good,

Nichole

Granola and Flax Crusted Pecans

27 Jan

IMG_0296

Happy New Year!

Better late than never, right?

Maybe that will be the new name of this blog: Healthy Recipes, Better Late Than Never.

I have found myself using the term with a lot of free will these days. The whole work/get-a-life balance mixed with the occassional curve ball has left me appologizing for being tardy or absent more frequently than I’d like to admit. Most of the time when I feel like I am spread very thin in life I get a hankering to push my physical limits. Not sure of the psychology there, but let’s all agree that it’s not worth checking into a mental health clinic. Yet.

Last Saturday with the wheels in my head spinning,  I had a deep longing to get outside for some serious solitude; plug in my headphones, and run. My spirit of adventure and I decided on a trail run at Mount Tamalpais, one that I have never done before.

IMG_0189

Running the trails, amongst the giant redwoods and lush greenery was pretty inspiring. The fact that I never tripped and managed to make it out of the 7 miles or so unharmed was a feat for me. As I am typically pretty klutzy. Pretty klutzy meaning very.

IMG_0201

When I made it to the top of the Steep Ravine I stopped for a snack…. you see where I’m going with this? Granola and Flax Crusted Pecans! And water, so much water.

These pecans are the perfect quick snack, full of protein and quick carbohydrates. The cinnamon and sugar touch is one of my favorite flavor profiles ever, so I am biased in saying that I think they are the perfect treat.

Why you should eat this?

Pecans are full of good, heart healthy fats and fiber. Helping to decrease the overall LDL (bad cholesterol) and promote HDL (good cholesterol). If you are running, hiking, or doing any kind of moderate excercise, pecans are a great anti-inflamatory snack to help speed up muscle repair.  If you are not into physical activivty then just eat these because they are delicious and won’t kill you.

Granola and Flax Crusted Pecans

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons ground flax
1/4 cup dark or light brown sugar (will try maple syrup another time)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Few pinches sea salt
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons water
2 cups pecans

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

IMG_0275

In a food processor, pulse oats, coconut, ground flax (also added a few slivered almonds), sugar, cinnamon and salt.

IMG_0277

Make sure that you do not totally process this mixture, you want some whole oats left for texture. You don’t want to make this a powder or flour texture.

IMG_0279

In a large bowl, beat the egg white and water until frothy.

IMG_0289

Add pecans to the bowl and coat them very well. VERY WELL. Stir the nuts around in the egg white mixture for a few good turns to ensure that every pecan gets a good amount of moisture, this is how the oat mixture will stick to the pecans and that is the point here guys.

Pour oat mixture into bowl with egg mixture and fold very gently. You will have more oat mixture than pecans, but that is all part of the deliciousness.

IMG_0290

Spread all of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 20 minutes. Move the pecans around once with a spatula to ensure an even browning for all pecans involved.

IMG_0291

Allow nuts to fully cool. Then break up clusters and store in a tighly sealed container until ready to eat. Or whatever, just eat them straight off of the pan.

Trust me, so good.

Nichole

Grilled Sweet Corn and Sriracha Butter

24 Jun
Grilled Sweet Corn with Sriracha Butter

Grilled Sweet Corn with Sriracha Butter

It’s Summer. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? To say that ‘time flies’ might just be the understatement of life. Time flies and life is short. Hear that? You get to be alive one time, life is short: eat butter. Real butter. Unless you are lactose intolerant. Then make this with mayonaise. Your lactose intolerant life is short, eat mayonaise. If you’re vegan, sigh.

Also short: this recipe. Annnnd this post.

Not too much has changed for me.

Kaepernicking at the finish of the SF Marathon

Kaepernicking at the finish of the SF Marathon

Still running. (Also copyright infinging, sorry Marathon Photo)

World Champion San Francisco Giants

World Champion San Francisco Giants

Still watching baseball.

Still cooking.

I make this Sriracha compound butter pretty often. I’ve used it on just about every type of steamed or grilled vegetable. Made a pool of it in baked sweet potatoes. Melted this and drizzled it on grilled steak. Popcorn. Cornbread. You get it right? If you’re heart tells you that a particular food item will be great with butter, than it can only get better with Sriracha butter.

Lucky for us, it’s summer. And in further evidence that summer is God’s way of saying ‘You’re welcome’, it’s the season of sweet corn.

OK, summer in San Francisco is more like God saying ‘What, don’t you people have enough? Here’s some fog and wind to keep you humble’. At least we still get fresh corn from local farmers, just outside of the city.

Summer in San Francisco

Summer in San Francisco

If you’re coming to visit this summer, bring a jacket.

Why you should eat this? 

Corn is full of antioxidents, fiber, and a good source of vitamin C. Like the strawberries I wrote about in my last post: try your hardest to go organic with corn. Corn in the US happens to be one of the most genetically modified (GMO) foods. In order to make sure that you are getting actual health BENEFITS from vegetables, organic is the best way to go. If you can’t find organic corn on the cob in your area, try the frozen food section. Lately markets have been  providing fozen organic produce because it is less perishable and they won’t lose out if customers don’t buy it quickly. It’s not a terrible option.

Grilled Corn with Sriracha Butter (Servings: 4-8)

  • 4 ears of corn, (either whole or split in half to 8 pieces)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • tablespoon sriracha
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder (to your taste)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 3 limes, each cut into 6 slices
  • course sea salt, I like Maldon
Grilling corn in Le Creuset grill pan.

Grilling corn in Le Creuset grill pan.

Rub corn with a bit of olive oil to start.

Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat, and grill the corn until slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Mmmmm charred.

Turn to cook on all sides.

Hello lover: Sriracha Butter.

Hello lover: Sriracha Butter.

In a small bowl or small food processor, combine the butter, sriracha, chili powder, lime zest, and a strong squeeze of lime juice.

When the corn comes off the grill, slather it with the mixture, sprinkle with cilantro, and a big sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

Serve with slices of lime and enjoy.

Trust me, so good.

Nichole

Green Smoothie Goodness

23 Jan
No leaks in your smoothie please.

No leaks in your smoothie please.

If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution raise your hand. Notice that mine are firmly planted to the keyboard. Wait a second, you can’t see me. THAT is the beauty of the interwebz. I might have my hands firmly planted to plate of cookies for all you know.

I am not much of a resolutions maker. I’m more of a immediate fix kinda gal. If I am not happy with something I getter’ done real quick. Call it a lack of patience or a pursuit of excellence, I enjoy being thorough. Want to play therapist for a second? I have a standing day on my calendar each month to clean out one drawer in my house. Whether its the sock drawer, top shelf of my pantry, or the cabinet under my bathroom sink: something is getting cleaned out and thrown away (or donated if possible). What is this mental health condition called?

Any how, this year, I have created a New Years Challenge for myself. Because my competitive spirit responds better to challenge then resolution. (send therapist recommendations to ChefNicholeMayer@gmail.com) My new years challenge: try one new thing a month. In my immediate view – new thing is new activity. As the year goes by maybe I will try a new food or try a new cocktail? That hardly seems adventurous enough.

First up: Bikram yoga. Stay tuned for the results, they will not be pretty. I have two classes under my (very sweaty) belt and 18 more to go. The results so far is that I am now combining my morning green juice with my post workout smoothie: green smoothie. Boom.

I have had an on-again-off-again relationship with green smoothies in the past. Lately I have been hard into green juice and as always have loved my post workout smoothie, but the timing of my Bikram class and the importance of pre Bikram hydration (water, lots of water) have forced me to consolidate the two. So far the only good thing to come out of this experience.

Can you tell my review of Bikram will be glowing?

Potential smoothie goods

Potential smoothie goods

Why you should drink this?

Fresh green juice is loaded with enzymes, oxygen, minerals, and vitamins. Because blended fruits and vegetables are fresh, this makes them easier to absorb into the intestinal wall. Blending the fruits and vegetables, as opposed to juicing them also leaves you with all of the beautiful water soluble fiber. Everyone needs fiber. Think blending vegetables is weird? Invest in a really good blender that blends them very well. Also consider that the blender is ‘predigesting’ the vegetables for you – less work! OK, that sounds strange, I know.

This is not an exact kinda recipe. You can use pretty much any greens you would like. Substitute the apple for pears or cucumbers instead of celery. Add seasonal fruits during warmer months etc. Want your smoothie to be a little more rich? Add a few slices of avocado. Like fresh herbs? Add a handful of cilantro or parsley.

I always have frozen bananas ready to go for smoothies, but if you don’t have them frozen, use a few ice cubes. OR a few frozen cubes of coconut water. As with most of my recipes – let your imagination run wild here.

Green Smoothie Goodness (servings 1 -2) 

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 apple, peeled & cut – I like a tart one like Granny Smith or Honey Crisp
  • 1 c. spinach leaves
  • 2 stalks celery
  • ½ head kale or romaine
  • few splashes of coconut water, almond milk, juice, or water.

Blend all ingredients really well and enjoy.

Trust me. So good,

Nichole

p.s. Go 49ers!!

San Francisco City Hall lit up in Red and Gold.

San Francisco City Hall lit up in Red and Gold.

Garnet Yam Gnocchi in Brown Butter & Sage with Pink Lady Apples

29 Nov

Alright lets get the awkward part out of the way. Where have I been?

I KNOW.

I won’t get into a lot of details, but I’m going to blame Apple for my absence. My Macbook has been pressing me to upgrade my iPhoto (where pics get stored) for a while. I finally did and now I hate iPhoto. Hate it.

IT TAKES FOREVER.

Well played Steve Jobs (or whoever is in charge  these days). I know how much you guys count on my incredible photo skills, so I wasn’t going to do a post sans my stunning photography. Good enough?

Great, lets get to the food.

This recipe was inspired by left over garnet yams and a recent trip that I made to my new favorite restaurant in San Francisco – Rich Table. The recipe is seasonal, rich, simple, but decadent all in the spirit of Fall. I love gnocchi, but I never make it with russet potatoes, always garnet yams (the orange ones) because I prefer the flavor. The dish at Rich Table was a pork tagliatelle with apples and almonds. I loved the apples so much that in the spirit of culinary inspiration, I came straight home and added thinly sliced apples to my gnocchi. See how that works, inspiration is everywhere! Or anywhere there are incredible cooks behind  the stove, like at Rich Table.

Pork Tagliatelle with Apples and Almonds from Rich Table. Beautiful, right?

Why you should eat this?

Garnet Yams are full of fiber, anti oxidants, and anti inflammatory goodness. Beta carotenes, vitamin A & C, and magnesium. Of course with the added butter and cheese in this recipe the benefits will be compromised, just don’t eat this every day. Or try your best… because it’s really stinking good. The flavors are right on for Fall, sweetness from the cinnamon in the gnocchi paired with the tartness of the raw apples, and the richness of REAL butter (use it) and sage. This dish will warm up the cold nights ahead, for sure.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Brown Butter & Sage with Pink Lady Apples 

(Servings: 6-8)

For the Gnocchi

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes
  • cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup for the work surface

For the Sage Brown Butter:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 20 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small Pink Lady apple, sliced paper thin

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Pierce the sweet potato with a fork. Bake the yams on a parchment lined sheet tray until tender and fully cooked, between 40 to 55 minutes depending on size.


Cool slightly.

Cut in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl or peel the skins off with your fingers, depending on how much hot your hands can take. I don’t really have any feeling left in my fingers, so I went with the peel technique.

Using a potato ricer or a masher, mash the yams and transfer to a large measuring cup to make sure the yams measure about 2 cups.

Transfer the mashed yams back to the large bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, salt, cinnamon, and pepper and mix well.

Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms.

Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough in a ball on the work surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal balls.

Roll out each ball into a 1-inch wide rope.

Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces.

Roll the gnocchi over the tines of a fork to form each piece.

Transfer the formed gnocchi to a large parchment lined baking sheet. Continue with the remaining gnocchi. You have some work to do here.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Add the gnocchi in 3 batches and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Drain the gnocchi using a slotted spoon onto a baking sheet. Tent with foil to keep warm and continue with the remaining gnocchi.

For the brown butter and sage sauce: While the gnocchi are cooking melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.

When the butter has melted add the sage leaves. Continue to cook, swirling the butter occasionally, until the foam subsides and the milk solids begin to brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the salt, and pepper. Careful, the mixture will get bubbly. Gently stir the sauce.

When the bubbles subside, quickly toss the cooked gnocchi in the brown butter and sage.

Slice the apple super thin.

Transfer the gnocchi to a serving dish, add apple slices raw,  and serve immediately.

Trust me.

So good,

Nichole

Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie

26 Sep

The seasons are changing right?

If I never went outside or didn’t look at a calendar, I would know that it is Fall from the posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram about a certain pumpkin spice flavored latte from that one coffee place. People really love that super sweet, cinnamon-y, slightly pumpkin flavored drink.

I’m no fan. Coffee is coffee. Let it be coffee.

What am I a fan of? Well, Fall. And I LOVE me some pumpkin pie. The rich creamy, spicy flavors of a pumpkin pie = pure love. In fact when I make a pumpkin pie (near future), I will post a picture of it and proclaim my love across all social media outlets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all of them. Because that is how you show something you really love it.

** Fall in San Francisco is apparently prime surf season. I literally learn something new about this city every day. These guys look like they can use a smoothie.

Recently I read about a pumpkin spice milkshake (by read, I mean I saw it on the menu at a burger joint) and I immediately thought about this as a smoothie. Frankly, these days, the line is really blurry between milkshake and protein smoothie. I have come to really look forward to my smoothies as a treat. I believe that I actually run at a better (faster) pace because I SO look forward to my reward at the end of the run. It’s this kind of rich and creamy deliciousness that has made me a better runner. Quote me on it.

Oh and in case you guys are keeping track – I did really well at the Giant Race. Now I am training for the Nike Women’s marathon on October 14th.

I know, I can’t believe it either.

Why you should eat this?

It’s better than that latte.

Ok, ok, ok. PUMPKIN!! Get it off your porch and into your smoothie.

Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, C, and E. Vitamin A is a powerful anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining healthy, glowing skin! So you can go ahead and use the remaining pumpkin puree on your face. This smoothie is so good, you might want to just rub it all over your face too.

No? Just me?

Rich in B-complex vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. This smoothie is great source of B vitamins for those who eat little to no animal proteins.

What are we waiting for?

Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie (Servings: 1 pretty big smoothie)

  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (if using vanilla flavored – skip the vanilla extract)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon honey (can also use agave)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (your choice – I like hemp protein)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger

Blend it all together and enjoy! Add more almond milk if you want to loosen the consistency, more spices if you want an extra kick. Get some adventure in your life.

Trust me, so good.

Nichole

Pulled Jerk Chicken

25 Jun

Admittedly, jerk is one of my favorite words. Not jerk in culinary terms, but the derogatory jerk. In a world where it would be acceptable to wear the same t-shirt everyday, I want to wear one that proclaims: Don’t be a Jerk.

That said, I realize a t-shirt will not create a difference in the jerk agenda, but the smug grin that I could pair it with, just might be priceless. Like say, you are wearing your blue tooth in the grocery store and having a conversation so loud that everyone from produce to bakery can hear all about how you just put fancy hubcaps on your sweet ride? I would purposefully walk right in front of you, just so you could see my t-shirt. If you were standing behind me in line, I would stand in that line backwards, facing you.

OK, I digress. Point is: don’t be a jerk, unless you are the pulled chicken sandwich variety.

Pulled Jerk Chicken can do no wrong in my book. Sweet, savory, spicy goodness. Chicken so flavorful and tender that it can easily stand up against the beloved BBQ pulled pork that so many people adore. The pork version full of saturated fat from the pork and sugar from the sauce is a treat, for sure. Why not get the same satisfaction without gambling with heart disease?

You can eat this as a sandwich, a lettuce cup,  maybe as a taco, or as a salad on top of some really cool, hearty greens. Meat is so tender and flavorful, you won’t even need a dressing.

Why you should eat this? 

Its summer, you’re probably hot. This can be made late at night, when the house has cooled down, your catching up on TV. You can then heat it up the next day  and it will be amazing. These as a sandwich can be wrapped up and taken to a baseball game. Believe me on that one. As a lettuce wrap, put some of the meat in a container, lettuce in a baggie and boom, lunch.

This recipe is a lot of ingredients, but don’t be dismayed. You literally throw all of it into a pot and let it cook. Most of the ingredients will be fine to live in your pantry until the next time you make this and the perishable ones, you can buy only what you need. This is worth the extra time spent on your shopping list!

Phew, OK: long recipe – long winded, sorry.

Pulled Jerk Chicken (8 – 12 servings)

  • For the rub:
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • For the chicken: 
  • 4 lbs. bone-less, skin-less chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or another high heat oil that you prefer)
  • For the marinade:
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
  • cup distilled white vinegar
  • cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • cup soy sauce (I used Gluten-free Shoyu, use what you have)
  • 1  tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 medium scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ cups cilantro (about 1 bunch), coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
  • 1 habanero pepper, seeded and sliced into rounds
  • To serve:
  • 24 (4-inch) deli French rolls or Iceberg Lettuce for cups
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Combine all rub ingredients in a small bowl.

Coat the chicken all over with the rub and set aside. Get your hands dirty here, make sure that all of the spices are rubbed in and evenly coated.

Make your marinade.

Stem and seed the habanero pepper. Use caution here, if you have rubber gloves, wear those when handling the habanero. If not, wash hands thoroughly when you are done and don’t touch anything on your face for a while. In fact, go ahead and wash them again and again.

Peel your ginger and cut into 1/4 inch pieces.

Place all marinade ingredients in a medium nonreactive bowl and whisk to combine.

Heat the oil in a large pot that can transfer from stove to oven (dutch oven)  over medium-high heat.

Add the chicken to the pan, pour the marinade over and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and cover the pot.

Place in the oven for 2:30  hours.

When the chicken is ready, remove the chicken from the sauce to a bowl. This will be tricky as the chicken pieces will be tender and falling apart.

Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer, pour the sauce back into pot, get sauce to a simmer and turn to low. Let simmer while you pull the chicken.

Discard the herbs, ginger, and garlic pieces left behing in the strainer.


When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-sized pieces and place back in the pot with the sauce until ready to serve.

Split the deli rolls in half and toast,  place  the jerk chicken mixture on each sandwich.

If using lettuce, choose Iceberg and split the head into quarters and peel leaves apart. Place chicken in each ‘cup’ and enjoy.

Seriously, this is so good, trust me.

Nichole

Sun-dried Tomato and Green Olive Tapenade

19 Jun

This is not really a tapenade.

A tapenade would have capers. Looks like a pesto,but a pesto would have nuts and parmesan cheese.

Am I still in your circle of trust?

I guess I could call this a spread, but seeing that word as a headline makes me feel a little generic, somehow kinda cheap.

Great, now I’m shallow.

All of a sudden this whatever-it-is, is totally ruining my credibility.

Let me call it a tapenade, ok?

How about a *tapenade?

*Tapenade – a caper -less Provencal dish consisting of pureed green olives, sun-dries tomatoes, and basil. It is a popular dish in Nichole’s kitchen where it is generally eaten as a sauce for pasta, spread on sandwiches, scrambled in eggs, or by the spoon full over the sink.

Why you should eat this? 

Let’s talk about good fats. The fats in the extra virgin olive oil and the green olives in this *tapenade have incredible health benefits. Anti- inflammatory, heart healthy, improves brain function, protects blood vessels, improves digestion, and the polyphenols found in olive oil are natural for helping us lower our risk of certain cancer types.

Why are we not doing shots of this right now?

If you are on a low-fat diet, it is still really important to consume healthy fats such as extra-virgin olive oil. Fats are what make us feel full at meal times and if you are not consuming enough, you’ll be a walking around a hungry zombie of a dieter.

Sun Dried Tomato and Green Olive *Tapenade  (Servings: 8)

  • 1 cup chopped or julienned sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1 cup  medium green olives, pitted
  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional – 3/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • Optional – 1 lb Linguine (or your favorite pasta, I used soba noodles)

In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, basil, garlic, oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Puree, make sure that the garlic gets chopped up properly. Run a rubber spatula around to make sure that there are no chunks of it left.

Pulse until blended but still chunky (no big garlic chunks, though). Season with salt and pepper, to taste

SO EASY.

This can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks in a well sealed container.

If you are adding this to pasta, cook pasta according to directions and then throw a few heaping spoonfuls into the warm pasta. Keep adding the *tapenade until it suits your taste. This is where you can add parmesan cheese. Lots of it.

I like to throw a few spoonfuls of this into a quick egg scramble too. Super quick, really easy. Eggs full of flavor.

This is so good.

Trust me,

Nichole

Gluten-Free Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble

12 Jun

Let’s get seasonal. It is officially late spring/summer and the markets are starting to fill up with strawberries, cherries, rhubarb, and many other berries and stone fruits.

It’s time we all get serious about pie. Or fruit desserts. I know what your thinking: “all this sunshine, I want to wear something sleeveless, no pie for me please”.  Fine, I have your compromise. Relatively guilt-free fruit crumble that happens to be gluten-free!

You’re welcome.

Look out sunshine, here we come!

This here strawberry and rhubarb crumble is protein packed, gluten-free, full of anti oxidants…. (whispers) some sugar and butter. What? I suspect (with certainty)  that you can substitute out the butter for coconut oil and make this vegan. I then presume you can also decrease the amount of sugar (lets say by half)  in the crumble part of the recipe as coconut oil is naturally pretty sweet. Why didn’t I do this, in this here recipe? Forgive me, this was a spur of the moment deal that I threw together, then loved it and was eager to share it with you. I will in the future (VERY near future) try out the alternate crumble with all of the beautiful cherries that are at the market lately, how about that? For now, make this – it’s really stinking good.

Why you should eat this? 

Strawberries. First thing, first: go organic here. I won’t go into the politics, but if you want to make a difference in the world, buy organic strawberries. (The pesticides used to grow non-organic strawberries, have been found to be toxic to not just those that eat them, but the workers who pick them). There.

Strawberries have a unique combination of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, so the benefits to improve cardiovascular health, lower blood sugar, and the prevention of cancer have all been proven many times over. PLUS, there are walnuts in this crumble, if you’ve been paying attention (last weeks post), you know that those healthy fats are also very nutritious.

Strawberries and rhubarb also have a pretty quick season, so make this while you can. If you can find either of these in the winter months, you are not paying any attention to my first request up there…. don’t disappoint me.

This is rhubarb. Looks like red celery and has a tart taste. Pairs oh so perfectly with sweet strawberries.

Gluten-Free Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble (Servings: 6-8)

  • ¾ cup oat flour (Can also use AP flour)
  • cup  walnuts, lightly toasted
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup natural cane sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup natural cane sugar
  • ½ lb.  hulled strawberries, cut into quarters
  • 12 ounces trimmed rhubarb, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • ¼ cup port wine (OR red wine, optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter (or coconut oil) a 9×9 glass baking dish.

Lightly toast the walnuts, this adds a warm depth of flavor. They will get further toasted when all is cooked together, but lets keep the details simple, shall we?

Chop them into smaller pieces.

Combine the oat flour, walnuts, rolled oats, sugar, salt, and pepper (YES, black pepper) together in a bowl.

Use a fork to stir in the butter (or coconut oil).

Squeeze into a few patties, wrap in plastic,  then place in the freezer to chill at least ten minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling by whisking together the cornstarch and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the strawberries, rhubarb, lemon zest, and toss until evenly coated.

Wait three minutes, add the port and toss again.

Transfer the filling to the prepared pan, remove the topping from the freezer, and crumble across the top of the filling. Get it? CRUMBLE. Make sure that you have some small pieces and some large pieces. Do it.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the topping is deeply golden and the fruit juices are bubbly.

You’ll want to let things cool a bit before serving, 20 – 30 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of whatever vanilla ice cream that you are into. This should come natural, like putting chips in your sandwich.

Then get out and enjoy some sun.

Trust me, so good!

Nichole

How to use a French Press to make the kind of coffee that can save the world.

12 Apr

Coffee, you are my ultimate frenemie.

I just can’t quit you . No matter how many times I have tried. If your keeping count: MANY.

Mornings are my favorite time of the day and its no coincidence that coffee has been a pivotal part of my mornings for a long time now. My old standby, I often feel like coffee is the key to me finding real happiness in this life.

In a tragic twist of fate, my schedule has me running in the mornings. Long distances. Which, after a cup of coffee, leaves me feeling as if I am going to relive my morning cup in reverse. Not good.

Terrible timing really, since I have found a way to brew the best cup of coffee ever and I’m here to share it with you. (YOU’RE WELCOME)

Here’s what you need to know about brewing the perfect cup of coffee.

Do: buy loose beans in small quantities. Buy from a local roaster or a store that sells a high volume, upping your chances of buying beans from a recently roasted batch.

Do: buy pre bagged beans in a heat sealed, aluminized mylar bag. If you can’t get recently roasted, the mylar bagged coffee is a good option at your local market.

Do: use filtered water. A cup of coffee is 98% water. Use the good tasting stuff or else we are all wasting our time here.

Don’t: rely on expiration dates. If your buying whole beans, rarely will you find an expiration date.

Don’t: store your beans in the fridge or freezer if you are going to get through them in 2 weeks time. You risk them picking up off flavors from other foods and extra moisture they may not need.

Don’t: buy preground coffee. Grinding speeds oxidation and the deterioration of flavor. Get over to Target.com and get yourself  bean grinder for less than $20. These are pretty invaluable in the kitchen, as you can use it to grind fresh spices or flax seeds too.

Why you should drink coffee? 

For the sake of brevity, go here . This Amanda Chan lady knows what she is talking about. I like her style.

My favorite Technique: The French press.

A French Press directly infuses ground coffee in just boiled water. Once properly steeped, the grounds are pressed to the bottom of the carafe. This method is considered one of the best techniques because the coffees oil is not filtered out. It yields coffee nearly as full bodied as espresso. The really dark, GOOD stuff.

What you will need: Something to make hot water (I like a tea kettle), a grinder, and the french press.

Grind beans to  medium-course. You want the grounds to stay under the plunger when you press. I hope that you can guess that these are whole beans, I didn’t get a picture of them ground. I’m not perfect.

Add 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water.

Add just boiled water steadily, saturating the coffee grounds. Your water should be about 195-205 degrees. Do I think that you will pull out a thermometer and test the temp? No. Pull the water off of the heat right before it gets to a rolling boil. Water boils at 212 degrees – THAT IS TOO HOT.

Give it a big stir with a long spoon or chopstick.

Add the lid and let it steep for 5 minutes. Put on a little mascara, brush your hair….

With even steady pressure, press down the filter.

Pour yourself a big hot cup. As you sip, notice that the world is a much better place.

OK, that’s not guaranteed.

My new favorite mug full of positive affirmations. Cheers!!

Trust me, so good.

Enjoy,

Nichole